Baked Stuffed Clams
This recipe is featured in September Clamming on Cape Cod
Serve Baked Stuffed Clams with our favorite recipe for clam chowder and leafy green salad for an authentic New England maritime lunch, or as an outstanding hors d’oeuvre or first course. I spent all the summers of my youth in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, where my father made this recipe with quahogs we dug ourselves.
- 24 quahogs, scrubbed and opened, shells reserved (see Note)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) finely chopped onions
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) finely chopped parsley
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) finely chopped green bell pepper
- 10 ml (2 teaspoons) minced celery
- 1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
- Olive oil
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) Old Bay Seasoning
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) white wine
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) Pernod (optional)
- Dash of hot sauce
- 118 ml (1/2 cup) dry bread crumbs
- Finely crushed Saltines or other salted crackers
- Finely grated parmesan cheese (optional)
NOTE: It takes skill, strength, and the right tools (a clam knife and a protective glove) to open raw quahog clams. To make a challenging job easy (no special tools required), heat an oven to 232°C (450°F). Spread the clams on a rimmed baking sheet and put them in the oven just long enough for them to crack open 1.3 cm (1/2 inch), 5 to 10 minutes. Now you can proceed to open them over a bowl with any kitchen-ready sturdy blunt tool. Reserve at least half of the shells.
- Drain the clams of their juices, reserving the juices. Scrub 12 (or a few more in case they are needed) of the half-shells and set them aside. By hand, or using a food processor, finely chop the clams. In a large mixing bowl, combine the clams with the onions, parsley, bell pepper, celery, and garlic.
2. If you are going to bake the clams right away, preheat oven to 204°C (400°F); if planning to freeze them, skip this step.
3. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil. Add the clam mixture and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes. Add the Old Bay Seasoning, wine, Pernod, and hot sauce. Sauté another 30 seconds and then remove from the heat. Add the bread crumbs and toss until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. If the mixture seems dry, add a little of the reserved clam juice. Lightly pack equal portions of clam mixture into each shell half. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs and paprika, and drizzle a little olive oil over each.
4. To cook the stuffed clams, arrange the on a baking sheet and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake until browned on top, about 15 minutes.
5. To freeze the stuffed clams, wrap each filled shell with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Freeze until solid and then transfer to a sealed freezer bag. These may be frozen up to 1 month. To defrost, place the frozen clams on a baking sheet and allow to defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
6. To bake defrosted stuffed clam, preheat the oven to 400° F. Remove the foil from the clams and, if desired, sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese. Bake until the clams are heated in the center and browned on top, 15 to 20 minutes. To test whether the clams are heated in the center, insert the tip of a knife. The tip should be warm when it is removed. If it is cold, lower the heat to 350° F and allow about ten more minutes for cooking.